Henry Quantum is a 40 year old man who lives in San Francisco with his wife Margaret. It's December 23rd, and Henry realizes he hasn't purchased a gift for his wife for Christmas. He decides he wants to buy her Chanel No. 5, and after a meeting at his advertising job, he takes a long lunch, determined to walk to Macy's and buy the perfume.
Except Henry's simple task takes him on a journey that has him thinking about physics, the stars, buddhism, the meaning of life, and Christmas songs. He's a bit absent minded, what with all the ruminations that continually fill Henry's mind. His marriage to Margaret is stale; she's always busy as a successful realtor, and disappointed in Henry's unfulfilled potential.
But on Henry's wanderings, he runs into Daisy. Their affair ended a few years past, but Daisy still loves Henry. She divorced her rich husband, and now lives in a modest home and is going to school for a doctorate in neuroscience. A bump into becomes a lunch, where it's clear Daisy still has feelings for Henry. Henry is no absent minded, dimwit of a husband to her--she sees all the wonderfulness of Henry that Margaret doesn't and perhaps never actually did see. Will Henry take this chance meeting as a sign that there's more for him in the universe?
The story is divided up into sections narrated by Henry, Margaret, and Daisy. It was very helpful to understand each character a bit better, and see just what drove each of them to be the people they are on that December 23rd. I can't say I liked Margaret much, but Daisy is delightful, and Henry, while his inability to stay focused on the here and now was a bit annoying, well...he was a bit endearing, for sure. So what starts out as a seemingly simple quest to buy perfume for his wife ends up being so much more for all three characters.
You'll just have to read it to find out what happens. It's a short read, and close enough to Christmas to make it a holiday read.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books for an advanced copy to read.
Rating: 7/10 for a very different, delightfully quirky novel about the choices we make in life. It's never to late for a do-over.